Young skill on show: Five Copa America fledglings to look out for
Much has been made of Copa America giants Argentina and Brazil’s favouring of the old guard after squad selections for the prestigious South American tournament were announced.
The two titans of world football seemingly have a never ending conveyor belt of footballing prodigies at their disposal but have opted for experience instead, as three exciting Argentine strikers in Paulo Dybala, Mauro Icardi and Luciano Vietto failed to make the cut, while Brazilian wing whiz Felipe Anderson and midfield shield Casemiro were the only Samba starlets of note to be considered, though the former remains only on standby.
For those fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the future in Chile, however, all is not lost, as some of South America’s next generation will still be on show. Here are five worth watching…
Sebastian Gamarra (18, Bolivia)
AC Milan’s Primavera playmaker is mooted to be a future star in midfield, and finally a maybe a talent for Bolivian fans to really cheer. This Copa America could come too soon for the youngster, capped just once for his country, but it is great show of faith from coach Mauricio Soria to take him to Chile.
Bolivia are huge outsiders in the tournament so, with little to lose, the Rossoneri maestro in waiting could rack up some crucial minutes.
A selection of Gamarra’s highlights:
Angelo Henriquez (21, Chile)
The Manchester United-owned marksman is an exciting and somewhat unexpected addition to the hosts’ squad (4/1 with Coral to win the 2015 Copa America), having only five caps, but two goals in those games have shown the strikers’ potential.
Plucked from Universidad de Chile in 2012 by the Red Devils, the youngster had been creating waves in his homeland. Loan struggles at Wigan Athletic and Real Zaragoza followed, but his recent sensational season with Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb put the dangerman back on the map.
A goal haul of 29 across all competitions and a strong showing should he get the chance in Chile, with Alexis Sanchez’s striking foil Eduardo Vargas still recovering from injury on duty with QPR, could leave him in contention for a return to Old Trafford.
Watch Henriquez’s goals:
Jeison Murillo (23, Colombia)
All Italian eyes will be on new Inter Milan signing Murillo, who will officially join the Milan giants on July 1st, when the Coffee Growers take to the pitch in Chile.
Likened to former Colombia and Inter stalwart Ivan Cordoba, Murillo is renowned for his strength in the air and all-round exuberance, but has much to prove. A strong showing with his nation, who could go far, would be a great start.
Jonathan Rodriguez (21, Uruguay)
Uruguay (10/1 to lift the 2015 Copa America) certainly know how to nurture formidable frontmen, meaning Edinson Cavani will not be left wanting for a partner in suspended Luis Suarez’s absence, with Rodriguez and our following pick both in the ranks.
Currently on loan at Benfica until 2017 from Penarol, poacher Rodriguez has clearly shown enough promise for talent spotters extraordinaire the Dragons to reportedly capture 40% of his rights, having hit seven in six for Benfica B.
Diego Rolan (22, Uruguay)
Currently shining in Ligue 1 for Bordeaux, versatile and pacy forward Rolan clearly has a bright future ahead, and will be hoping to take his fantastic form, including 16 strikes and four assists at club level, to the Copa America.
La Celeste really look to be the leading lights for blooding young players in this competition, with 20-year-old Atletico Madrid defender Jose Gimenez also expected to play a huge part.
Rolan’s best for Bordeaux: